40 Tuff Tray Play Ideas

The popular Tuff Tray is such a versatile resource to have for children at home or in your setting. With or without a stand it can be used for many small world set ups and containing messy play, adventures and crafts. Below, we show 40 of our best tuff tray play ideas. Some great invitations to play.

You don’t even need a Tuff Tray, rectangular builders trays from hardware stores, circular metal trays, smaller sand trays or even a washing up bowl or the lid of a storage box will do.

  • Small World Set Up – from pirates and fairies to Duplo, Lego, Playmobil and Dinosaurs!
  • Messy Play – Science experiments
  • Painting
  • Early Mark Making
  • Themes – Pirates, Dinosaurs, Fairies, Dragons
  • Exploring colours, number and shape
  • Storytime
  • Learning Colours and Numbers
  • Water Play
  • Planting
  • A Den
  • Animals

Here are our best Tuff Tray play ideas:

  1. Fairy Small World Play in the Tuff Tray
  2. Planting seeds in the tuff tray
  3. Natural collections in a tinker tray
  4. Potion making in the tuff tray

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  5. Sensory play in the tuff tray with Dinosaur Jelly
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  6. Big art messy play in the tuff tray
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  7. Mark making in the tuff tray
  8. Exploring circles and fractions in a tray
  9. Washing toys in the tuff tray
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  10. Duplo in the tuff tray
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  11. Easter play in a tinker tray
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  12. Exploring dinosaurs and mud in a tuff tray
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  13. Discover and dig for dinosaurs in a small tray
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  14. Dinosaur tinker tray exploration in a tuff tray
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  15. Exploring numbers in a tuff tray
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  16. Exploring colours and rainbows in a tuff tray
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  17. Discover Pirates and dig for treasure in the tuff tray
  18. Playmobil Pirates small world play in a tuff tray
  19. Sand play in the tuff tray
  20. Water play and boats in the tuff tray
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  21. Recycled cardboard box castle in the tuff tray
  22. Messy mud play with dinosaurs in the tuff tray
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  23. Gruffalo storytime in a small metal tray
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  24. Turtles and water play in the tuff tray
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  25. Transport in the tuff tray
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  26. Comparing sizes in the tuff tray
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  27. Small world animal scenes in the tuff tray
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  28. Small world Bears and wooden platform in a tuff tray
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  29. Messy exploding science in a tuff tray
  30. Discover and learn about Bees in the tuff tray
  31. Balls in the tuff tray
  32. Shaving foam in the tuff tray
  33. Thomas Trains in the tuff tray
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  34. Sensory edible frozen fruit smash in the tuff tray
  35. Exploring shadows in the tuff tray
  36. Sensory potion and perfume making in the tuff tray
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  37. Marvellous metallics in the tuff tray
  38. Big art cardboard creations and paint in the tuff tray
  39. Frozen and ice themed arctic small world play in the tuff tray
  40. Discover the World in a tuff tray
  41. Minibeasts and minibeast hotel making in the tuff tray
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We always have a variety of accessories to hand to dress our tuff tray. Our most popular insert or mat is our artificial grass mat. We also have a box of items such as sticks, stones, pebbles, wooden circles and cuttings, wooden pieces to build with, small world trees and figures, water beads, glass beads and fabrics to create water.

We also love these tuff tray alternatives and accessories:

This is an amazing wheelchair friendly disabled access tray and stand – what a fabulous idea for inclusion and accessibility for disabled children.

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Published by Charlotte Parry

Hello. I am a mum to 2 boys with another on the way! Sharing ideas and inspiration for craft projects and adventures with little ones.

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